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Ancient Feet: 57 - One Duckfart

...'When I visited my brother, George, in Oregon a few months ago,' he said, 'we went in a bar one day to sample the beer. George recommended the local brew, which is Weinhard's, and he went to the bar for the first round but brought back two cocktails.''

'What are they?' I asked.

'Duckfarts,' George said, 'they're cocktails.'...

Alan Nolan and his hiking mates sample an English version of an American cocktail.

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For the first six days of our journey we had been scattered, rarely walking as a group, but this was the third day running that we had kept together, apart from the missing Don. Admittedly, Joe and Tom fell behind at times but Paul and I would stop to let them catch up, so that we really did seem to be a group. Whether it was Paul's renewed anxiety that had caused the change, I didn't know, but it was good to feel part of a group of friends undertaking a major challenge together and supporting each other.

Arriving in Osmotherley in mid-afternoon, we made our way to the Queen Catherine for a drink and to catch up with the cricket, having heard nothing for the last two days. We learned that Friday's appalling weather in Yorkshire had not extended to London where they had enjoyed almost a full day's play, finishing early only because of bad light. However, the poor -weather had travelled south on Saturday and, whilst we were enjoying a reasonable day, frequent showers were interrupting play in London throughout the day. As England only needed to draw to regain the Ashes for the first time in many years, the poor weather was to our advantage.

After our forced march along the roads of the Vale of Mowbray, we were enjoying our Saturday afternoon relaxation with a drink and the cricket when the light seemed to dim and we wondered whether there had been a power failure, but that wasn't possible as the television was still showing replays of Friday's play. Then we realised that there was a familiar figure standing in front of us, blocking out the light and we heard that unmistakeable voice.

Oh, and there we were, all in one place A generation lost in space.

'Andy, how the devil are you?'

Being weekend, he had decided to drive up and take us by surprise and spend the night with us. We were staying at the youth hostel in Osmotherley that night and, of course, Andy's bunk was already booked. We were delighted to see him and pleased to learn that his blisters were healing well, although not well enough for him to do the rest of the walk with us. Also, there was a sense of relief that the disappointment of going home early had not caused him to fall into one of his dark periods. His presence encouraged us to have another drink or two before finding our way to the hostel and, by way of celebration, Tom told us that he was going to treat us all to a Duckfart. In fact, he had promised Duckfarts to us a few nights earlier in Kirkby Stephen but, by now, we were convinced that they were a figment of his elderly imagination. There was a story behind this.

'When I visited my brother, George, in Oregon a few months ago,' he said, 'we went in a bar one day to sample the beer. George recommended the local brew, which is Weinhard's, and he went to the bar for the first round but brought back two cocktails.''

'What are they?' I asked.

'Duckfarts,' George said, 'they're cocktails.'

'I thought we were having beers,' I said, 'I don't normally drink cocktails. Why did you ask for them?'

'I didn't. I asked for two Weinhards but the barman must have thought I said two Duckfarts.'

Unlike me, George is a very quiet, diffident sort of bloke and, rather than cause a fuss, he just paid for them and said nothing.

'Well, I'm going to tell him,' I said, and picked up the glasses but George called me back.

'Now then, our Tom,' he said, 'don't go causing a fuss. I live here and I don't want to get a reputation as a bolshie Englishman. We can drink these and then have a beer.'

'Surprisingly, I took a liking to them and had a few more before I came home.'

At the pub in Kirkby Stephen, he had gone to the bar and asked:
'Can you do five Duckfarts for me?'

I watched and noticed the barman's broad smile change to a wary half-smile:
'Are you looking for trouble?' he asked in a slightly threatening way.

'No, no,'Tom said, Tm not asking you to fart like a duck. It's a cocktail. It's called a Duckfart.'

'I don't do cocktails; I've only been here a few weeks and wouldn't know what to do,' he said. 'I'll ask the landlady' He called to a rather large woman at the other end of the bar, who was wearing a dress of which my grandmother would have said 'it fits where it touches', which was just about everywhere (and even where it shouldn't), and she made her inelegant way towards Tom and the barman.

'The gentleman here wants to know whether we can do Duckfarts,' he said. He had his back to Tom but, from my vantage point, I noticed one eyebrow flicker slightly upwards and an almost imperceptible movement of his head back over his shoulder, as if to say 'careful, the bloke's a nutter.'

'Now, what is it that you want?' she asked, in a manner which suggested she would call the police if the answer was not to her liking.

'I asked for a cocktail called a Duckfart,'Tom said, in what he clearly thought was a patient tone, although I knew him well enough to know trouble was brewing.

'Never heard of it,' she said, almost triumphantly it seemed. 'Mind you, there's not much demand for cocktails here,' which, looking round the bar, I could understand. Tom just stared at her and I waited for the cutting remark but she must have sensed that he was not going to give up that easily, so she offered 'tell me what's in it and I'll see if I can make it for you.'

'Bailey's Irish Cream, Kahlua and Crown Royal, in that order,' Tom said.

'We've got the Bailey's,' she said, hopefully.

'What about the rest?'Tom asked, clearly not impressed.

'I think I've heard of Crown Royal,' she said, 'but can't remember what it is.'

'It's a bourbon, but you could use Scotch if you haven't got any,'Tom suggested.

'And what's this Carl Lewis?'

'I didn't say Carl Lewis, I said Kahlua. It's a coffee liqueur,' he replied, now beginning to wish he'd never asked for a bloody cocktail.

'Never heard of it,' she said.

'Give me five pints,'Tom said, in desperation.

Looking round the bar in Osmotherley,Tom had assessed that the Queen Catherine attracted a better class of customer. Indeed, he was convinced that cocktails were part of the staple diet in this corner ofYorkshire, so he disappeared to the bar.We were about to send a search party to look for him, but he returned before we set off, carrying a single glass, which he placed in the middle of the table, a satisfied, not to say smug, grin on his face.

'There,' he said, 'one Duckfart. The barman hadn't done one before but he was determined to learn how to do a new cocktail. The only trouble was that it cost an arm and a leg.You can have a sip each and, if you like it, you can buy your own.'

We sat round the table, gaping at the concoction in front of us, wondering who was going to be the first to sample this renowned beverage (renowned, that is, among Tom's friends).

'Tell us,Tom,'Joe said,'why is it called a Duckfart?'

'Just look at it. Doesn't it remind you of anything? You know when you go to the park and walk by the lake and all those Canada ducks waddle around, shitting on the path; doesn't it look like one of those sort of layered shits?'

There was silence for a moment as we all continued to stare at the glass and it was Andy who broke the reverie:

'So why is it called a Duckfart if it's supposed to look like a shit?' he asked, quite reasonably in my opinion.

'And anyway,' Paul added, 'they're actually Canada Geese, not ducks.'

'Yeah,' I said 'if it's a goose, not a duck and a shit, not a fart, why isn't it called a Gooseshit?'

'I don't know,' said a beleaguered Tom,'because it's American.'

We took turns to have a sip and I noticed there was no rush to the bar for full measures of the transatlantic brew.

As we enjoyed the relaxed Saturday afternoon atmosphere, we watched the customers coming and going and Andy could hardly contain himself when two very attractive young women walked in to the bar. One of them in particular took his fancy and I have to admit that she was spectacularly beautiful:

'Just look at that figure ... and those legs ... and that face ... she's absolutely gorgeous,' he enthused 'and so sexy. She's sex on legs. In fact, she exhumes sex.'

'I think you mean she exudes sex,' said Paul patiently.

'That as well,' Andy mumbled 'she reminds me of that lass who used to go to the gym. You know, the one that made all the lads go cross-eyed. What was her name?'

'I think you mean Suzy Jones.'

'That's right,' acknowledged Andy, 'but we used to call her Erogenous Jones.'


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